Viewpoint: Tackling economic challenges in the next legislative sessionOver the past year constituents have contacted me regularly with their concerns about the economy. They’re understandably worried.
By: Rep. Marsha Swails, DFL-Woodbury, Woodbury Bulletin
Over the past year constituents have contacted me regularly with their concerns about the economy. They’re understandably worried.
Some have lost their jobs or their health care; others have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Even those of us still working worry we may be next and are making adjustments to prepare.
As consumers, workers, business owners, and those in the public sector, we’re coping with a new set of circumstances, whether it’s cuts in our workforce, reductions in perks and benefits, cutting back on some of life’s luxuries, or finding creative ways to do more with less. And for some of us, the changes we’ve made have revealed a better, more efficient way of doing things.
With the start of the 2010 Legislative Session just a few months away, the agenda will be full of serious issues, but none will be more pressing than getting Minnesota’s job market back in gear.
One of the most important things the Legislature can do to stimulate job growth is pass a Capitol Investment bill. There is wide agreement among economists, business leaders and policy-makers that bonding projects have some of the greatest potential to stimulate the economy and put people to work. Up to $4 billion in bonding requests will be submitted this year, with the Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s agencies already having submitted more than $2 billion in requests. As a result, the selection process for bonding projects is extremely competitive.
A report released recently indicates that Minnesota workers benefited from the federal stimulus spending. According to the White House and state agencies, the federal stimulus package had created or saved more than 14,000 jobs in Minnesota through the end of September. Those jobs were in sectors from public education to public safety, and from energy retrofits to transportation.
With almost two-thirds of the stimulus money yet to be spent, thousands of new jobs will be created in our state in the coming months, including many in the renewable energy and technology sectors.
Legislators have also been preparing for the upcoming session through a newly-created House Jobs Task Force. The bipartisan group of legislators has been meeting with economists, business leaders, employers and workers to develop strategies to move our state forward and get people working again.
Additionally, the Legislative Small Business Caucus has launched a survey to gather feedback from small business owners about obstacles they are facing and what state government can to do to facilitate a more favorable business climate. You can find the survey online at www.house.mn.
As we focus on ways to bring our economy out of recession, we must also lay the groundwork for a sustainable recovery. An educated workforce is vital if we are to attract workers and maintain jobs.
We must continue to explore new job markets, such as bio-business and clean energy technology. Additionally, we must continue working to provide a safe and reliable infrastructure of roads, bridges and rail to help our private sector grow and flourish.
I’d like to hear from you. Please contact me to share what you have learned from this economic downturn and how these lessons could be applied in the public arena to move Minnesota from recession to sustained recovery.
Our long-term recovery depends on integrating what we learn from this recession into our decision-making rather than reverting to business as usual, and considering every good idea - no matter the source - to find a better way of doing business. I look forward to your ideas.
Marsha Swails is the state representative for District 56B, Woodbury.